Odiase sees old Stamps mates as ‘brothers’
Osagie Odiase doesn’t talk about the Calgary Stampeders the way most players speak about their former teams.
How could he? In two years with the Stampeders, Odiase played 10 games in one of the league’s most competitive defensive backfields and learned what it took to be a CFL player.
Odiase also lost one of his closest friends when his teammate and roommate Mylan Hicks was murdered outside a Calgary nightclub on September 25, 2016.
In the months after tragedy struck, Odiase relied on the support the Stampeders provided and leaned on his older teammates for support.
To this day, Odiase calls his old teammates his ‘brothers’ and he admitted Thursday that the bonds they formed made it especially tough when he was released by the Stamps on Aug. 13.
“I was heartbroken,” Odiase said from Tim Hortons Field. “A traumatic thing happened to me, losing Mylan, and when that happened I absorbed the vets. I absorbed the team even more, you know what I mean? They became my brothers.
“They looked after me after that. Being let-go was a heartwrencher, it hurt me a lot, I’m not going to lie.”
Odiase has nothing but good things to say about the Stampeders organization and understands that football’s a business. The Stamps made a business decision when they released him, and he’s found a happy landing spot in Hamilton, where he’s established himself as the surging team’s starting defensive halfback since signing on Aug. 30.
Even from halfway across the country, though, the bond Odiase formed with his Calgary teammates remains strong. So strong, in fact, that he was visibly eager to catch up with the Stamps once they arrived in Hamilton on Thursday.
“Man, I’m excited, it’s cool to be able to play against your boys and be able to see your boys, I haven’t seen them in a long time,” Odiase said. “I talked to them this week, actually. We just talked and everybody’s just excited to see everybody.
“I’ll probably grab dinner with the DBs, we’ll do our normal thing we did when we travelled. Josh Bell hit me up, said ‘let’s grab some food.’ Ciante hit me up and said ‘let’s do our routine.’ It’s not like, ‘Oh, I don’t want to talk to you, we’re playing against you.’ Some of those dudes, they probably could be in my wedding someday.”
The goodwill between Odiase and the Stampeders appears to be mutual.
The decision to release him wasn’t an easy one, but with the Stampeders boasting the deepest defensive back group in the CFL, head coach Dave Dickenson said he believed that being released by Calgary and joining on with another team was always the best thing for Odiase’s career.
“It was tough when we let him go but I felt like he wasn’t really going to have a chance to be on our roster anyways,” Dickenson said. “At the time we had huge depth at DB and I think it was best for him to try to play and make a name for himself, and I’m glad that he hooked on here.”
That was a sentiment that was echoed by Stamps QB Bo Levi Mitchell on Thursday.
“He’s not a guy I think we wanted to see let go, he was great in the locker-room obviously, and obviously we all went through something together, and him probably tougher than anybody else, being so close to Mylan,” Mitchell said. “But he’s an awesome DB, so we knew that when he went somewhere else, he was going to get his chance.”
The Stampeders made five changes to their roster for Friday’s game, and they brought some of their biggest names back into the lineup.
Names like Jerome Messam, Kamar Jorden, DaVaris Daniels and Dwayne Norman … Wait, who?
Norman was only added to the Stampeders practice roster on Aug. 31, and while he’s officially listed on the team’s depth chart as a linebacker he but will mostly be stepping in on special teams for Friday’s game.
With the likes of Maleki Harris, Deron Mayo and Wynton McManis all fighting through injuries, Norman was next up.
“He’s been fitting in with our system, we think he can play,” Dickenson said. “He’s going to get his shot, he’s going to have (a chance) on special teams first.”
With Jorden and Daniels returning to the lineup, the Stamps have plenty of options at receiver.
Especially because they managed to keep both Marken Michel and Reggie Begelton in the lineup.
“The whole receiver position, what it’s done is it’s given us more depth,” Dickenson said. “At least we feel more confident in our depth and, going forward, I still think obviously the guys who were starters at the beginning of the year haven’t done anything to lose their jobs, but both Marken and Reggie have made a lot of plays for the last two weeks.
“We’ve found something with our young guys, but our veterans have been practising hard and certainly should give us a lift.”
Ticats defensive back Osagie Odiase, wearing a Stampeders toque during a light moment last season, says being let go by the Stamps was “a heartwrencher.”